Opioid Therapy Linked to Avoidance of Some Screenings

Patients on chronic therapy significantly less likely to be screened for cervical, colorectal cancer
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, May 12 (HealthDay News) -- Patients using chronic opioid therapy for non-cancer pain may have a lower likelihood of receiving some preventive services, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

David I. Buckley, M.D., of the Oregon Health & Science University in Portland, and colleagues compared the receipt of four preventive services in 704 patients ages 35 to 85 -- some receiving chronic opioid therapy for non-cancer pain and some not on chronic opioid therapy -- who were seen over a three-year period at seven primary care clinics within the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network.

Compared with non-use of chronic opioid therapy, the researchers found that use of chronic opioid therapy was associated with a significantly lower likelihood of cervical cancer screening and colorectal cancer screening (relative risks, 0.60 and 0.42, respectively). They also found that chronic opioid therapy was associated with a nonsignificantly lower likelihood of lipid screening, but that the relative risk for receipt of smoking cessation counseling was not notably reduced.

"Our findings suggest that providing appropriate preventive services for these patients may present particular challenges that current systems of care are not meeting," the authors conclude. "We believe that future research to better characterize the relationship between chronic opioid therapy, chronic non-cancer pain, and preventive care could inform changes in practice and systems of care to more effectively provide preventive services. Future studies could use qualitative methods to more clearly understand the characteristics of patients, clinicians, clinics, and clinical encounters that affect the quality of preventive care received by patients with this common chronic problem."

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